If you own a law firm and are looking for SEO consultants, this article will give you a broad overview of SEO strategy and implementation. To make it an easy read we have outlined ten points including advice on search engine optimization (SEO), blogging and reputation management to squash or mute those negative reviews.
If you keep on reading, we’re going to share an SEO strategy with you that doesn’t take too long to implement but has the power of increasing your click-through rates by 30%!
Here is what the best SEO Consultants for Lawyers should know to improve your online presence:
1. Good SEO consultants always start with keyword research.
Do you know which keywords your customers are using to find you? For lawyers, this sounds like an easy task, but the English language with all its nomenclatures can make things complicated. Let’s start with the name of your profession. Are you a lawyer or attorney? How many people use them interchangeably? Don’t forget barristers, solicitors, advocates, and counselors all are used to describe the legal profession, but most people in the US will use either lawyer or attorney to find you, but which one should you use when writing content? Fortunately, most modern search engines like Google have already made adjustments for this, so if your SEO consultants are worried about the difference, they have not been paying much attention to search engine marketing trends.
Relevant keywords are now conversational.
Google updated its algorithm with Hummingbird in 2013 to take the guesswork out of the meaning of a user’s search, so you don’t have to worry about stuffing keywords anymore. However, you will need to consider more conversational queries—specifically those used in voice search. SEO Consultants should start targeting phrases that begin with “Who, How, Why and Where” as these will prove beneficial towards SEO. For example: “How do I know if my SEO consultants are doing their job?” We hope this article will help answer that question.
2. What is local SEO and why is it necessary for lawyers.
Most attorneys are specialized, whether it be in the field of insurance claims, business law, injury settlements or divorces. Your website’s content probably already reflects your specialized services. Hence you have already started the process of narrowing the focus of your message for search engines.
Consider also that you are licensed to do business in a particular region. For this reason, you will need to focus your efforts on local SEO. If you are too busy to take this on, it may make sense to hire local SEO Consultants. Read this article on Local SEO before you decide on which direction to take.
Here’s why you need to focus on local SEO.
First, an example of a global keyword: “lawyer with affordable rates.”
While this keyword may get a lot of searches, it may not be the most cost-effective. Millions of lawyers target broad keywords and end up wasting a lot of money in the process.
With this approach, you’re optimizing your website for search terms that are too broad, and this is not the most efficient use of your time and marketing resources. Furthermore, customers would be contacting you from areas in which you are not licensed to work anyway. Unless you have a network of lawyers globally, this will end up costing you money without adding to your bottom line.
Take a look at this highly targeted local keyword instead:
“divorce lawyer in Boston.”
Immediately, the difference is apparent. This type of keyword may get less monthly searches, but for Boston area lawyers it is a more realistic target. Also, those who search for this term are more accessible. You can meet with them quickly, and they can be easier to convert into customers. Your customers or friends may know them, and it will be easier to make a personal connection. Furthermore, you’re offering the service they need in the area they reside.
3. Local directories and customer reviews
While location-based keywords are essential for your website’s organic rank, these Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will usually get pushed down by local results including local directories, maps, and customer reviews.
While there are thousands of local directories out there, only a handful are driving all the traffic. We recommend focusing on these websites for Local Search and Reviews:
Update your local listing and keep them accurate.
Getting your business listed in local directories is easy but ranking well in local results requires a commitment of time and resources. You will want to make sure your listings are consistent, accurate and as complete as possible. Variations in your company name, phone number and or address can make a difference in how search engines perceive and rank you in local search results.
Don’t just set it and forget it!
Keep your listings regularly updated with photos, posts and quality content and you will see the best results. Lawyers benefit from having an updated profile in major local directories like Google My Business and Yelp because they dominate the traffic for most online local searches.
4. Good SEO consultants should help identify and implement structured data (using Schema.org)
Search engines love structured data because it helps them deliver answers to many search queries without users needing to click through and visit a website. Did you know that by implementing structured data, your click-through rates in the search engines get increased by around 30%?
Your website will be rewarded with higher click-through rates because you took the extra effort to make your content more accessible by making it structured. But before you can do this you need to identify the structured data on your website.
Identifying structured data for lawyers
Structured data may improve your local search results.
The most apparent structured data on almost every Lawyer’s website is the physical location of your firm. Search engines will know exactly who and where you are if you identify the name, address and phone number of your business as structured data. (for example, in the ‘contact us’ section, you can ask your programmer to highlight your office locations as structured data).
By using structured data to combine your company name with your contact information, it creates an additional location based signal for search engines. Although it is not official, Google will likely announce schema as a ranking factor for its local search algorithm.
Structured data for seminars and networking events
Face to face marketing is one of the most effective ways to win new clients. Many lawyers recognize this and hold educational workshops or networking events for local chambers or business associations. Your website can use structured data to highlight the “event” with a “date,” “cost,” and “venue,” and this helps search engines to answer specific questions about that event when people are searching for it.
Use structured data from government websites.
Government organizations have no incentive to add structured data to a website because there is no profit motive. For those who depend on search traffic to grow their business, this is a welcome opportunity.
If there are dates that new state or local laws are going to take effect, they are a meaningful event about which people will be searching. Your site could rank well if you use schema to identify the event details including when the change will happen.
For example, if you are a Massachusetts lawyer you should follow the Official Massachusetts Trial Court Law Updates Blog. This blog is an excellent resource for current changes to Massachusetts law. We tested the blog’s content with Google’s Structured data testing tool and did not find any structured data. However, the content on the blog is full of unstructured data that can be tagged, structured and reformatted for your website. Thus this can be a good strategy when coupled with good advice and tips on accommodating the change.
Legal articles and publications
Most Lawyers have already written educational articles and publications, so this structured data opportunity should be an easy win. Many lawyers don’t know is that the content they have already written is rich with Structured data. Therefore you will want to let Google know your page contains legal articles or news publications by identifying the headline, image, publisher, author name, date of publication that help inform searchers.
More Structured data for lawyers
Additional structured data opportunities include social media profiles and reviews. For more information on implementing structured data, please read our article: “All you need to know about Structured Data, Schema, SERPs, Rich Knowledge Boxes, Snippets and more.”
5. Quality content, blogging, and social media
Every good legal website needs a blog. By blogging about changes in the law, especially those that are currently in the news, you’re going to attract visitors to your website. People will be searching for these topics in Google, and if your SEO consultants have done their job, they’re going to be using the search terms in the content of your article.
By having relevant, optimized, quality content posted on your website, you’re accomplishing two things: you’re feeding the search engines the type of material they’re hungry for while positioning yourself as an expert in the niche. For more on blogging read “How to make a successful blog – 7 helpful Tips for first-time bloggers.”
To get the most out of the articles you post, consider using a revised version for traditional media like the local newspapers and don’t forget to get the word out on social media.
6. The importance of optimized meta tags, performance, mobile compatibility and quality backlinks
SEO rankings are something that needs to be planned, achieved and maintained, and to do this you need to follow some basic SEO principles. For starters, your keywords need to be present in the following areas of your website:
- Meta description
- H1, H2, and H3 (header) tags
To fully optimize your site several additional technical elements need attention including:
- Keyword density
- Optimized graphics and use of alt image tags
- Videos with captions or a transcribed version
Introducing Google Lighthouse a tool for testing technical performance
Google has been on a performance binge lately where it has created a variety of tools that make it possible for developers and non-technical users to audit the performance of a website. You can bet if Google invested in tools to improve your site it is also going to reward you for using them, and that is what it has been doing.
Examples of Google website optimization tools include:
Recently Google introduced Lighthouse for developers. This combined several of these website optimization tools into one comprehensive resource for testing web applications and websites. This Google tool is one that your web developer should be using and one about which your SEO Consultants should know.
Offsite SEO consultants and link building
Moving on to the offsite SEO, this mostly has to do with gaining backlinks to your website from relevant, quality sources. Again, we’re also just briefly touching upon it, since this topic requires a separate article to be appropriately covered (or even a whole book).
Just a final word on blackhat SEO consultants: don’t even think about using them. While they may look appealing, because they promise quick results, the cold hard truth is that the effects are usually not long-lasting, and in the long term, this type of SEO methodology will do you more harm than good.
7. Having social media presence is a great way to get in touch with your potential clients
Social media presence goes beyond gaining quality backlinks to your website (but they are indeed a part of the package). In essence, social media pages are an opportunity for you to establish a deeper, more personal connection with your audience. Through which potential customers can also come to you with questions you can answer. By making this connection and being responsive, you are going to gain their trust, which may very well be enough to tip the scales of them doing business with you.
Also, every time you post something new on your blog, you can even let your customers and followers know about it by posting it on your social media channels. Not only does it act as a high-quality social backlink to your website, but it also brings the content closer to the eyes of your readers.
8. Excellent design and professionalism go hand and hand
Never settle for a cheap-looking website. As a lawyer, you need to be a living and breathing example of professionalism; someone your clients can trust. Therefore, caring about your professional image must be at the forefront of your overall marketing strategy.
Not only does your website need to have a good design, but it also needs to be easy to navigate. In reality, you just have a couple of seconds to convince the visitors that they’ve come to the right place, and you cannot afford to lose a moment of their attention. Often, they’re not even going to read the content, merely skim over it, and decide on a whim whether you’re trustworthy or not. So you need to make the few seconds of their attention count.
9. Conversion optimization is the name of the game
No matter what you’re doing and how much you’re trying to appeal to the search engines, the end goal of your website should be to convert the visitors into customers. After all, your site is the most critical sales representative you have, and it’s working for you 24/7, winning you clients even while you sleep.
To this end, you should make sure that you have an industry professional write the sales copy. After all, the content must serve the end goal of bringing in new customers. If you don’t get new business, then you are just paying to host a website without the rewards that should come with it.
10. Good SEO consultants can help with online reputation management
Getting great reviews on Yelp and Google My Business is crucial, since customers may check the online reviews before doing business with you. Furthermore, search engines are looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and online reviews are one measurement for separating good lawyers from bad. Online reviews have been a ranking factor in the algorithm of most major search engines. Therefore your placement in search results will depend, in part, on your reputation and online reviews.
The three most visible review platforms are Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. Since both Google and Facebook allow you to ask customers for reviews and Facebook lets you turn the review feature off altogether, the most challenging out of the three appears to be Yelp. We will focus on Yelp.
Dealing with bad reviews on Yelp
If someone has given you a bad review on Yelp, do not engage in a fight with that person. Instead, use your legal skills and your knowledge of Yelp’s policies to see if there are other, more efficient ways of getting bad reviews removed.
For example, when the person leaving the review violates Yelp’s terms of service, including comments that include the following:
- defamation of character
- racist, discriminatory, personal insults, etc.
- intolerance to religion or beliefs
- and similar
You can message the website’s administrators and report it. If the review contains any of the above, it’s usually pretty simple to get it removed. But even if that is not the case, there is still plenty of hope. For example, if you have enough information to identify them, you may want to consider contacting the reviewer offline and convince them to remove the bad review. After all, being a lawyer, this should be right up your alley.
How to get positive reviews on Yelp
Even though Yelp isn’t fond of business owners asking for reviews, you can still do it if you’re smart enough to fly under the radar. Although Yelp discourages the practice, the most straightforward way of getting good reviews is just asking the customers you know you’ve provided an excellent service for, to leave you a good review. If nothing else, they’ll be more inclined to do it as a way to express their gratitude. And besides, Yelp has no way of knowing you asked for these reviews.
As you can see, the best way of getting high reviews for your Yelp listing is to provide an excellent service. Admittedly, this is harder to do at the beginning where you’re starting from scratch, but it gets easier after you get the ball rolling.
What won’t help you get good reviews on Yelp
But no matter what you do, you should not mass email your email list, asking them for reviews. Yelp engineered its algorithms to easily spot this, and consequently disregard these reviews entirely, rendering your efforts meaningless.
The final tip we’re going to share is that you need to respond to both good and bad reviews. We’ve already gone over why you just cannot remain passive when it comes to dealing with bad reviews (they can do your business some serious harm), but responding to the positive ones may not be an obvious path to take.
But if you take the time to respond kindly to everyone who has taken their time to leave you a great review, you’re coming across as someone who’s kind and compassionate and genuinely wants what’s best for the customer. Also, this is a free opportunity for you to turn the review into an educational moment. Whether you are letting customers and the world know about a new service offering or benefit of working with your firm, take this opportunity as a win-win.
Hire SEO Consultants that follow the best practices outlined in this article
When you hire SEO consultants, you need to know how to evaluate their performance against standard industry practices. This article will guide you in making the decision and managing that relationship. You need to know about many things to be a good lawyer, and the same goes for running a successful legal practice. SEO and online marketing are one of those areas that are critical to success.
Feel free to contact our Boston SEO Consultants for a free website review. Call 978-851-9077